My neighbor and buddy Angelo turned 95 today. He was sitting out front again today and yesterday, but I was in a hurry and didn’t take the time to stop and chat. Later yesterday afternoon he was across the street talking with a new neighbor. I was glad to see him out of his yard. His daughter-in-law forbade him from taking his daily walks about a year ago, and so he’s confined himself to sitting out front in a white plastic chair that he stows by the gate.
I last stopped and spoke with him on the 3rd and he told me, “In five days I’ll be 95; that’s pretty old isn’t it. Almost a century.” I agreed—an amazing milestone. But what I was thinking was the painful fact that he’s outlived pretty much all of his peers. Being that age must get terribly lonely. It made me think of the John Pryne song, “Hello, In There.” That is a terribly poignant song about taking the time to talk with our elders, and I always feel a bit guilty when I don’t take the time to stop and chat with Angelo. It doesn’t take a lot of sensitivity to see that he is lonely. Once he said I should come over and watch television with him some time.
I’ve seen him slow down some in the last couple years. He doesn’t walk quite as well. However, his mind is still incredibly sharp, and he always asks me how I’m doing. Now when a 95-year old asks me how I’m feeling it makes me think that I must be looking pretty decrepit myself. I told him that last Sunday I’d pulled my Achilles tendon during my morning walk and that since then I’d had been limping. But I added that it was feeling better every day. Then Angelo says, “I’ve got an extra cane; you can have it.”
Angelo wears a big wooden cross on a rawhide cord around his neck. He always focuses on how others are doing. He’s very open about his faith. He is true Jesus-follower, and a great witness. He’s a loving, sensitive guy; he gets teary-eyed when he talks about his experiences in The War—22 missions as a ball-turret gunner on a B-24. He’s a stellar example of “The Greatest Generation”—folks that survived the hardships of both The Great Depression and World War II.
Happy birthday, Angelo. I hope you have another great year.